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Money Stolen from Temple Donations Returned to Abbot



Money Stolen from Temple Donatio

Police arrested a temple caretaker and two associates and returned 63 million baht, the money is believed to have been embezzled from donated temple funds.

Nakhon Sawan governor Chayant Sirimas assisted senior police officers in returning stolen money on Tuesday to Phra Ratchamongkhol Watcharacharn. He is the abbot of Wat Huai Duan, which is also known as Tharn Thaharn temple, in Nong Bua.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiart Pankaew, commander of the Anti-corruption Division, and Pol Lt Gen Jiraphob Bhuridej, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau joined the Nakhon Sawan governor.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhob said police launched an investigation after receiving a complaint on Oct 26 from followers of Luang Phor Phat.

Temple officials were accused of being untrustworthy, having embezzled money donated for temple development, religious ceremonies, and the abbot’s medical care for personal use.

Police Major Gen Charoonkiart said investigators found 63,034,470 baht transferred from three people into seven personal bank accounts. In addition to Sanoh Thongpron, he named two women, Chayanya Phetsaibua and Booncherd Sukchit.

Money in bank accounts frozen

Investigators froze the bank accounts, seized the funds, and asked the three suspects to explain where the money came from.

As Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat explained, the suspects confessed that the money belonged to the abbot during questioning.

Police learned that the abbot had requested that the temple caretaker and his associates deposit donated funds into his bank account. This would enable him to withdraw funds to pay for the construction of a new pagoda in the temple’s pond.

He had asked Mr. Sanoh to withdraw 15 million baht so he could pay the builder, but he failed to do so. To pay for the construction, he had to find funding from other sources.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat reported that the three suspects had since signed a waiver to allow the money to be withdrawn from their bank accounts. The money will be returned to the abbot.

The investigators also froze another bank account operated by Mr. Sanoh that held 7.9 million baht and were investigating whether that money also belonged to the temple.

“Police will take legal action against the offenders based on evidence and will not exclude anyone from charges.

The first step is for the officers to recover the embezzled money and return it to the temple. Charges against the people involved will be pursued quickly and the report submitted to the Anti-Corruption Commission within 30 days.

In addition to having a large following, Luang Phor Phat is highly respected. Donations of more than 100 million baht are reported to flow into his temple every year. The funds are used in ceremonies and to support other temples, hospitals, and schools.

Source: Bangkok Post

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